We always seem to discuss what to nosh on the beach all summer, which flavors to embrace in the fall, and comfort foods to whip up in the winter. Spring is the forgotten time for seasonal meals and signature foods that are fresh, healthy and easy for anyone to make.
With that in mind, I asked a couple of my favorite dietitians to give me some ideas for super-quick, super-yummy healthy spring recipes. From strawberries to asparagus, each one centers around a bit of in-season produce. Here’s how to taste the season.
Shopping for in-season produce is a great way to save money on your grocery bill. For more ways to make your dollar stretch, check out our helpful tips for saving money on groceries!
1. Kale & Beet Salad
According to Lauren Popeck, a dietitian with Orlando Health Physician Group, spring is the time to finally begin embracing fresh salads — which can be made numerous ways, with loads of in-season produce.
“Try kale and beet salad, with red onions, goat cheese and fresh orange,” she suggests. “I use a dressing of light dijon and apple cider vinegar, and you can save time by buying bag of chopped kale.” Cook the beets quickly by wrapping them in parchment paper and microwaving for five to seven minutes. Presto!
2. The PB&S
Keri Gans, a dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet, is a fan of spring simplicity. “When I think of spring produce, there’s nothing more delicious than in-season strawberries,” Gans says.
While she’s not opposed to tossing the cut-up fruit on salads or into smoothies, her go-to is the perfect sandwich for kids (and adults). “Instead of using jam on your PB&J, use cut strawberries on your whole-wheat toast instead to sweeten.” I’ll call it the “PB&S.”
P.S. It’s healthier than your PB&J, too! Gans likes that strawberries are high in vitamin C to promote immunity and skin health.
If PB&J is your go-to easy fix for a packed lunch, try these fun school lunch ideas like the PB&S instead!
3. Spinach-Artichoke Spaghetti
Lighten up your spaghetti for spring, says Popeck. “Choose whole-wheat spaghetti, and toss with spinach leaves, artichokes and diced tomato,” she says. “You can make a simple sauce using a blender. For this, I’d blend avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, fresh basil and garlic.”
Hint, hint: The blender is a fantastically fast method for whipping up healthy sauces, marinades, and dressing in minutes “plus it’s a great vessel for incorporating extra fruits or veggies” into just about anything, says Popeck.
If you’re trying to stay away from carbs, we commend you! Why not try making your Spinach-Artichoke Spaghetti with zoodles, or try one of these carb-free veggie noodle recipes instead.
4. Spring Soup
According to Popeck, soup isn’t just a cold-weather staple if you make the dish with a bunch of delicious spring produce. “Try carrots, peas, leeks, bok choy, white beans, small red potatoes, chicken stock and fresh thyme,” she says. “When it’s done, simply serve with parmesan cheese.”
Popeck suggests making a large batch so you can enjoy the leftovers for several days. To prep while you go about your day, combine all ingredients in a Crock Pot and cook on high for four to six hours, or on low for seven to nine hours.
Popeck’s Spring Soup isn’t the only one you can make in a slow cooker. Try these 7 other vegetarian Crock Pot soups that are full of flavor!
5. Veggie Alfredo
Mix together some whole-wheat fettuccine, broccoli, and cauliflower for a healthy, light Alfredo perfect for spring. Start by pureeing in chicken broth, cooked cauliflower, skim milk, and Parmesan cheese is a blender. To get a pretty golden hue for your noodles, simply swap pureed butternut squash for the cauliflower in the blended sauce. It’s a nice way to add nutritious color to your plate!
6. Honeydew & Cottage Cheese
While you can get away with noshing on certain foods out of season, Gans says melon isn’t one of these exceptions. “It doesn’t typically taste good year-round,” says Gans. “Honeydew, in particular, tastes so much better in-season in the spring.”
Gans suggests whipping up a healthy breakfast or snack, pairing the melon with cottage cheese. If you’ve got extra? Use it, along with strawberries, to infuse water for a flavorful way to hydrate.
7. Spinach, Salmon & Avocado Salad
Although you can grab spinach any time of year, it’s abundant and in-season this spring — and always packed with more nutrients than I can mention, from potassium to vitamins K, A, E, and B6.
Gans suggests “taking advantage of the many ways to use it,” like sautéing it in an omelet, adding it to pasta, or turning it into a quick-and-nutritious salad base. To super-charge your salad, Gans is a fan of omega-rich salmon and avocado, with tomatoes, feta and a little oil and vinegar as a dressing.
8. Cabbage Slaw
For lunch, a snack, or a side, Popeck likes to throw together a quick cabbage slaw — and it’s one that’s much healthier than your typical slaw.
“Rather than mayonnaise dressing, instead try blending together avocado, vinegar, and cilantro,” she says. “Another favorite cabbage salad recipe of mine is whisking together lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.” Toss either dressing with a whole head of finely chopped cabbage and you’re done! (Now chow down.)
9. Pea Hummus
Maybe you have a favorite hummus recipe, since the superfood is all the rage these days? For a springtime twist, Popeck suggests swapping fresh peas in place of garbanzo beans. “Use fresh radishes and other veggie sticks for dipping,” she says. (Hungry yet?)
10. Fresh Herbed Shrimp
With warmer days just around the bend, you can’t help but think of springtime herbs and coastal-like shrimp. Popeck suggests combining herbs in a food processor — cilantro, parsley, basil, green onion, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper — for a dressing, and then marinating shrimp for at least 30 minutes.
“Reserve some dressing to serve with the cooked shrimp,” she says. “Sauté the shrimp for three minutes and drizzle with herb dressing.” Serve atop a leafy green salad, and you’ve got a meal packed with nutrients.
11. Salmon & Asparagus
Gans loves pairing her asparagus with seafood. Her quick-fix healthy meal? “Grill salmon to go with your asparagus, which I typically roast with olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan on top,” she says. “While you’re already roasting, you can roast potatoes or pair with a baked potato.”
Have leftover asparagus? Gans suggests steaming, chilling, and then cutting it up on a salad the next day.
Do you love asparagus? Cook it up in a variety of ways with this recipe and 10 more asparagus recipes we love!
12. Grilled Pineapple & Apricot
If you need a healthy dessert or sweet snack, Gans suggests getting outside to your grill. “Grilling your pineapple and apricot really brings out that great, sweet flavor,” she explains.
Gans suggests serving as-is, but if you want to add extras: Grilled pineapple is delicious with a sprinkle of brown sugar, and grilled apricot goes nicely with a bit of goat cheese. Yum!
Grilling makes everything taste so much better, including these 5 foods we bet you didn’t know you could grill!